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You are here: Home » eGM Resources » Health Information & Resources Portal|Home » Bioterrorism & Chemical Agents » Food Safety Threats

Food Safety Threats

Food Safety Threats

Salmonellosis is an infection with a bacteria called Salmonella. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. There is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis.

Since foods of animal origin may be contaminated with Salmonella, people should not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat. Raw eggs may be unrecognized in some foods such as homemade hollandaise sauce, caesar and other salad dressings, tiramisu, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough, and frostings. Poultry and meat, including hamburgers, should be well-cooked, not pink in the middle. Persons also should not consume raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy products. Produce should be thoroughly washed before consuming.

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. In the United States about 400 cases occur each year, and 70% of these are acquired while traveling internationally. Typhoid fever is still common in the developing world, where it affects about 12.5 million persons each year. Typhoid fever can be prevented and can usually be treated with antibiotics. If you are planning to travel outside the United States, you should know about typhoid fever and what steps you can take to protect yourself.

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. People infected with Shigellosis develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacterium. The diarrhea is often bloody. Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days. In some persons, especially young children and the elderly, the diarrhea can be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. A severe infection with high fever may also be associated with seizures in children less than 2 years old. Some persons who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others.

E. Coli (Escherichia coli O157:H7) has been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef. Person-to-person contact in families and child care centers is also an important mode of transmission. Infection can also occur after drinking raw milk and after swimming in or drinking sewage-contaminated water. Consumers can prevent E.coli by

thoroughly cooking ground beef, avoiding unpasteurized milk, and washing hands carefully.

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the instestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but sometimes it can be severe. Approximately one in 20 infected persons has severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these persons, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours. Cholera in the U.S. has vertually been eliminated by modern sewage and water treatments. Should you travel to an area in the world where cholera has occured make sure you follow these recommendations:

  • Drink only water that you have boiled or treated with chlorine or iodine. Other safe beverages include tea and coffee made with boiled
    water and carbonated, bottled beverages with no ice.
  • Eat only foods that have been thoroughly cooked and are still hot, or fruit that you have peeled yourself.
  • Avoid undercooked or raw fish or shellfish, including ceviche.
  • Make sure all vegetables are cookedavoid salads.
  • Avoid foods and beverages from street vendors.
  • Do not bring perishable seafood back to the United States.

    A simple rule of thumb is "Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it. "

Source: Centers for Disease Control
Get more information on Food Safety Threats from the Centers for Disease Control.






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